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Meet Kwame, a 28 year old South African who works as a freelance author. Ever since his journey north to Kenya last year, Kwame has been immensely interested in the cradles of civilisation, eating up e-books, and watching documentary after documentary online.
Chief among them for excitement and colour is Ancient Mexico. Kwame has harboured the idea of going off and exploring the ancient ruins of the Olmecs and Aztecs for a few years now. He has decided to wait to book his trip after learning Spanish through an immersive online course (he can’t abide by those phoney translation apps), so that he can really get the best from it.
He develops his travel plans on a social network for people interested in primitive cultures and follows the blogs and vlogs of experts in the field of anthropology, charismatic travellers and expert travel agents, bringing their opinions together in his mind about what to do and where to go on his trip – though he doesn’t want to stifle the authenticity of his experience with too much planning.
Kwame books his trip, customising on a granular level to strip himself of every home comfort he can stomach to lose – he wants every detail to be as authentic as possible – and pays a little extra for an open fare in case he wimps out at the last minute.
When he arrives, he logs into a sofa-hopping network to arrange for a place to stay for the night, and locals to eat with. There are plenty of options in busy Mexico City, and once he decides whom to stay with, he sends a few messages back and forth and confirms his time of arrival – roughly. He will pay cash-in-hand for three nights.
He wears his connected eyewear around the city, which gives non-obtrusive pop-up flashes of information and insight on what is around him, without detracting from the feeling of being, like a 17th century explorer, on strange and wonderful alien soil. Augmented reality brings a long-lost culture to life before his eyes.
In general though, he finds Mexico City to be too clogged with tourists for his taste, and after two days changes his plans (sending his host family an apologetic message and receiving a partial refund via automatic transfer through a payment app) and heads to a quieter village further north. Here, he uses an app to explore what is going on in the local area – what are people talking about on social media? Any events? Do I know anyone here? – and dials the personalisation coefficient down and the serendipity coefficient way up – he wants to be absorbed entirely into the local culture.